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Alexandria, Virginia, USA
September 18
I'm a liberal secular humanist who enjoys writing, reading, playing video games and watching sports. I am a former member of the Armed Services who now enjoys the sweet sweet freedom of civilian life. My blog will be centered mostly on politics, football and video games. I'm not a professional hater, but I am a highly ranked amateur. Also, yes, I am a girl.


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JUNE 8, 2009 2:55PM

Finding Nema - Where Are The Girls in Pixar Films?

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Finding Nema - Where Are The Girls in Pixar Films?

Pixar studio burst onto the movie making scene in 1995, releasing the classic Toy Story, the world's first fully computer-animated feature film. It was an instant hit, and changed the face of animated films forever. Since that first movie, Pixar has since released 9 feature-length films:
  • A Bug's Life (1998)
  • Toy Story 2 (1999)
  • Monsters, Inc. (2001)
  • Finding Nemo (2003)
  • The Incredibles (2004)
  • Cars (2006)
  • Ratatouille (2007)
  • WALL-E (2008)
  • Up (2009)
Looking at the 10 films Pixar has released, a few similarities pop out almost immediately. First, all are uniformly excellent (save, perhaps, for Cars, which I personally found to be extremely mediocre in comparison to the others). Second, not a single film on that list features a lead female character.

This realization occurred to me personally when I went to see "Up" this past Saturday (review: A-). The film quickly introduces us to a spunky, adventurous female character, only to dispatch her within the first ten minutes. After that, it's an all-boy adventure (unless you wish to count "Kevin" - the female bird who doesn't speak - as a character).

This is not to say that Pixar doesn't include worthy female characters. But these characters are never the main focus - they're there to support the lead male character in whatever quest he's on. Most often, if you see a female, they're there either as a wife, mother or love interest.

Here's a breakdown of the notable female characters from each film, plus an overall feminist grade on the quality of the female characters:

Toy Story (grade C):
  • Bo Peep. Classification: Love Interest
  • Mrs. Potato Head. Classification: Shrill Wife
The girls just don't have a lot to do in this movie, frankly. The main characters are all male, and they are the property of a rambunctous boy.

Toy Story 2 (grade B-):
  • Bo Peep. Classification: Love Interest
  • Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl: Love Interest.
Jessie is a pretty good character. She's spunky and cool, plus she gets a good solo montage (complete with Sarah McLachlan song) that totally made me tear up. But in the end, she still mostly takes a second seat to Woody/Buzz and company, and must be rescued in the end.

A Bug's Life (grade: N/A):
I have to admit, I only watched this once, and barely, so I won't comment on the quality of the female roles. However, the protagonist of the film is clearly the Dave Foley character, and we're meant to see the action mostly from his perspective. I will give the film credit for having several female actors of note in the IMDB entry.

Monsters, Inc. (grade D):
  • Boo. Classification: Child in Peril
Another all-boy film for the most part. Boo, the human girl, doesn't speak in full sentences, and is sort of just there to get in trouble, so Sully and Mike can rescue her. She's adorable and hilarious, but isn't a particularly strong character.

Finding Nemo (grade B+):
  • Dory. Classification: Partner
Of all the Pixar films, I think Finding Nemo has the strongest female character in the form of Ellen Degeneres's blue regal tang Dory. She's not there as a stereotypical romantic lead, nor is she a mother. She's Marlin's wacky sidekick for most of the way, and she gets some of the best comedic moments in the film. Of all the Pixar character, Dory is the one I could most picture starring in her own story.

The Incredibles (grade B):
  • Elastigirl. Classification: Wife, Mother
  • Violet. Classification: Daughter, Petulant Teen
Elastigirl gets some good moments, and is a pretty excellent female role model. But ultimately the story is about a middle-aged guy getting his mojo back. Yes, Elastigirl and the kids learn to embrace their powers and Elastigirl also rediscovers the joy of crime-fighting, but I still feel like the real core of the story is about male midlife crisis.

Cars (grade D):

  • Sally Carrera. Classification: Love Interest
Look, I really am not a fan of Cars because it's mostly a Doc Hollywood ripoff. The main female character is just there to convince Owen Wilson's Lightning McQueen of the pleasures of small town life.

Ratatouille (grade C):
  • Colette. Classification: Love Interest
There's only really one female character of note, and she's not even the love interest for the central character. Colette gets points for being a strong woman (calling out Alfredo Linguini for messing up, etc). However, there are no female rats (as far as I can tell), and Colette is only there to support the other characters.

WALL-E (grade B):
  • EVE. Classification: Love Interest, Killing Machine
I can't really fault EVE for not speaking much, since neither does main character WALL-E. EVE at least seems like a formidable robot, judging from the destruction her laser beams did.

In my research for this post, I came across information that Pixar WILL be featuring a female character in a lead role for the film "The Bear and the Bow." Here's the rub though: she's a princess. Granted, from the description, at least at seems like she'll be somewhat feminist - the story involves her desire to be an archer, instead of just lounging around doing princess stuff all day - but ultimately this is still looking like a traditional fairy tale. It's tentatively scheduled for Christmas 2011, so we'll have to wait awhile before we can fully pass judgment one way or the other. However, I must say that I'm a touch apprehensive about the description that it's "Pixar’s first fairy tale." What I've loved about the Pixar films is that they aren't just for kids - there are some very adult themes in their works. I'd hate to have the first Pixar film featuring a female lead to be just another fairy tale.

Lastly, it appears I'm not the first person to notice the lack of female leads in Pixar's stuff:
edited 6/9 @1:08pm - I see that this got'd, which is awesome. A few notes, since the comments are blowing up:
1) I don't think Pixar is being intentionally exclusionary, nor do I think this some weird, "Let's keep the wimmen folk down!" Hollywood conspiracy
2) I *heart* Pixar films in general. That's the point of this article. I would love to see the Pixar magic produce a movie that features a girl in the lead, that's all.

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Great post, typist. And congrats on your cover placement.
Being a parent of two girls (now 10 and 12) I've noticed that his lack of female characters pretty much covers all forms of media. I love Dr. Seuss books, but after awhile I felt guilty reading them to my kids because there were rarely any female characters and I began to shudder at the all male pronouns.

The glaring exception that I can think of is Kim Possible. She's the hero / crime fighter and her goofy sidekick (Ron Stoppable) is a boy. I'm sad that Kim Possible hasn't made more of a dent in the American cartoon psyche.

And alas, the male-centricity continues in elementary and middle school book series: Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, etc. And in Twilight, although Bella is the main character she is the weak female who is put in danger by males and also depends on them for her protection.

It's kind of a chicken and egg thing. Are books and movies merely a reflection of where we're at as a society, or should they be driving our attitudes? Sadly, I suspect that if Pixar put a girl front and center that it wouldn't do as well (note Coraline), but who knows. Also, note that there are some kids' movies such as the Barbie series that are actually decent in quality for young girls, but they're not the type of things that transcend gender (I can't imagine very many boys watching Barbie and the Dancing Princesses).

Two exceptions I can think of are Mulan and Pocahontus. I don't know how they did at the box office, but both were good movies that appealed to boys and girls alike, and that had positive messages for girls.

I'm not sure what the answers are, but as a parent of two girls I've become acutely aware of the lack of female role model characters and concerned about what subliminal effect it will have on them to grow up in a such a male-centric media culture.
Most interesting. I never noticed this. Of course. Most interesting. But I loved Cars, and Finding Nemo had me squirming and wishing it would end soon, so I'm hopeless.
fins2theleft, I also thought that Disney's animated film "Lilo & Stitch" had a great female protagonist. Lilo was feisty, and got to be the hero of the piece. She was rough and tumble, and unlike the typical Disney princess.
here here!

i didn't like the incredibles much because i thought the female characters were actually living stereotypes. the mom's ability is... supermulti-tasking! the teenage girl's ability is... disappearing!

and worst of all, the whole villain's plan, which MUST be opposed... is equality? wtf?
My wife rags on Pixar movies for exactly this. And I hate it because their films are so well-made and often very, very good. But that doesn’t mean she’s not right. And the truth is, not a single one of the poorly rated (by your scale) films would have been worse off had they had more female characters playing principal roles. Frankly, they would have been better.

And damn! I knew nothing of ‘Up’, and I was hoping it might be different. Oh well. Without investigating the whys and hows, I’ve been assuming Pixar’s a boy’s shop, filled with young, talented men who simply create the worlds they come from and are used to. I hope they clue in to this sooner or later...

Great post.
David, just to be clear, I LOVE the Pixar collection. You should definitely go see "Up". It's a wonderful story, and both my boyfriend and I totally cried at certain parts of the movie.

The letter grade just reflects the quality of the female characters' roles. My overall grade for the Pixar films, in terms of how much I enjoyed them, regardless of any gender issues I may have is:

Toy Story
Toy Story 2
Finding Nemo

The Incredibles

Monsters, Inc.

A Bug's Life
I got this email today ( a response to signing the Dora Petition that Teen Doc posted about a while ago ) with a link to the petition for Pixar regarding "More Real Girls"! Go sign!!!
This is a huge issue of mine, not only with Pixar but with all movies. In fact, I realized that the only genre that typically stars women is horror, which, of course, pits the women in the role of terrified victim throughout. Oh yeah, and there is the Romantic Comedy genre where the woman is focused on marriage and relationships.

What's sad is that if you start reading up on real folk tales there are a ton of fantastic female characters out there that would make amazing movies.

And our role in history has been erased. For example, did you know that the idea for the cotton gin and at least some of its implementation came from a woman? Or that pioneer women had the right to own property and had a major economic impact through trade of household goods (pre-Walmart)? No? Wonder why this kind off stuff gets omitted from the books but we all know about Clara Barton and Florence Nightengale, in their so-called traditional female roles.
Yeah – I got that from your post. It was pretty clear your ‘rating system’ was about this female character aspect. (Did I say it was a great post?) And I’d heard how good ‘Up’ is, though I’ve stayed away from hearing too much more, since I’ll definitely be seeing it. Now I just have to convince my wife to go w/me!
Why do you think Angelina Jolie is so popular? I mean, to those that she is? I mean, to young women?

It's because she kicks ass, in her films. She's the boss.
Well now I'm all pissed off and stuff. Rated and resented.
great topic, great point!! another question: why are there no African-American Disney lead females? the princess collection is heavily Caucasian, with Middle Eastern, Native American and Asian (and Mermaid?) also represented.

my African-American friend has two bi-racial daughters who want princess toys, but there are none to reflect them! :(

sadly, it makes me love Disney that much less, and it seems Pixar is on the same racist, sexist boat.
It's hard to get too riled about this, considering that (1) the whole movie biz suffers from rampant sex inequality, (2) Pixar really does have some great female characters, and (3) Disney (which owns Pixar) has some of the best female characters in herstory. Still, you're absolutely right, and it's past time for change.

I note also that Joan Walsh rated this post without commenting. FYI.
GOod observation. However, I think it's worth mentioning that the female characters in Pixar films are strong female characters (Jessie, Colette, and Eve), which is a clearly intentional inversion of the princess stereotype. So, while it would be nice to see a female lead, it's also clear that Pixar is aware of gender stereotypes.
no kidding- I swear it's like reading orson scott card- is Pixar owned by the mormon faith too?
When my daughters, ages 24 and 26, were growing up in the 1980s and '90s, it was the same thing. The Smurfs were popular, but there was only one female Smurf. Even "Sesame Street" was criticized for having so few female characters. However, I did not allow my children to watch a lot of TV at all. TV is truly bubble gum for the mind as someone once said!

So, nothing's changed! But then, isn't it obvious that the media is controlled by male Republicans? Just look at the bimbos and ridiculous shows in TV Land. The women are silly, shallow, bleached blonde, boob job golddiggers usually, which is code for : "women are whores". Whether it's commercials, "news shows" (assuming there is really news on any of these shows), or any TV show, women are whores. That's the message of the media, loud and clear.

So, how do we deal with this? Turn off your TV in protest and don't go to the type of movies that feature only male characters...which means, you won't be seeing many movies!!
excellent post MT.

Halfof42 makes a good point as well.

I think one of the reasons why this is so frustrating is because Pixar does such a great job with their films. We want them to lead the way because we love their movies--but of course they don't. How hard would it have been to make Woody or Buzz or The Incredibles a minority? Nemo could have easily been a girl...
I also have two daughters (now 19 and 17) and we ran into this (or I should say they suffered me complaining a lot about this to them). Having to sit through many different viewings of Disney offerings with little boys with the daddy problems (kind of made Lion King boring to me), I was so relieved to finally have Pocahontas and Mulan for them to watch (and get some feminist critique on). But there is other stuff out there. Never forget the Wizard of Oz, an ur-text with a girl heroine if there ever was one. We also very much enjoyed My Friend Totoro (Miyazaki) (very much about sisters), and sorry to say, for it might make me seem like a bad mom, I can't say what incredible fun we had when they were in junior high and we'd stay up late on Saturdays with popcorn and watch Xena!
The only disagreement I have is over The Incredibles. While I think the story was probably intended to focus on Mr. Incredible (can't remember his real name), from my perspective, Elastigirl was the emotional core of the movie. The scene where she is in the airplane with her kids and they are about to get hit by a missile is the only scene in the movie that actually had any kind of emotional or dramatic intensity, as far as I'm concerned.
I wish you would've picked another movie to change into a female name. Nemo is probably the only disabled movie character I've seen that wasn't a caricature, wholly dependent on some abled character, or there solely to develop the main character.

In light of all those things, Nemo's gender really is irrelevant.
I noticed this in cartoons when I was growing up in the 80's and 90's. Lots and lots of cool, guy characters. Maybe 1 or 2 chicks. They were the sidekicks and love interests. Hardly never the main characters. Until PowerPuff Girls. That I was aware of, anyways.

I heard something recently that girls will often read or watch something with a lead guy character, but boys (up to a certain age, perhaps?) will not read or watch something with a lead girl character. What's up with that?
@JonHenner - "Nemo's gender really is irrelevant"

If that is true- then why does changing the name to female bother you? She's not suggesting Nema be an able-bodied character or dependent on able-bodied characters.
@ the buzz: there's better stuff out there for girls once they hit their teens. Some of my favorite movies star female protagonists (Pan's Labyrinth, Dancer in the Dark, all of Almovdovar's films, Terms of Endearment, Kill Bill...) of course, most of those come from outside Hollywood and they're not exactly mainstream. Plus, still no black protagonists in those.
Acting roles? What about the actual movie making portion? Have you noticed how many jobs are not even occupied by females? Note any Blockbuster and it's like casting and craft services and that's about it! But I'm told we are making progress. Go Oprah!
JustJuli: Because she was going after the one character that I can actually relate to in some ways and claiming that it isn't up to snuff because of its gender. Nemo is just perfect the way it is. It doesn't need to be changed to make it better.

Heck, change Woody to Wooda or Lightning McQueen to Lightninga McKing, but leave my Nemo alone.
And what was Dot in A Bugs Life? Chopped liver?

And Eve saved Wall-E, remember?
But -Jon- why not have more female disabled characters as well? And Typist wasn't saying Nemo wasn't good- not at all- as a movie she rates it A+ - see her other comment. It's just disheartening to not see more female leads when we're half the movie-going populace.
This has always been my problem with Steven Spielberg. Pretty much all of his movies are about males, with most of the females being silly or stupid or absent.
You forgot one of the best female characters in the Pixar pantheon: Edna Mode (Career Woman, Mad Genius) from The Incredibles! And she's far more important to the story than, say, Q from the Bond films.
ocularnervosa, eve did save wall-e, after he cared for her when she was incapacitated and traveled across the galaxy to save her. he fell in love with a sleek, violent entity that hated him.with their genders in mind, the story becomes a retelling of the taming of the shrew. which was awfully forward for its time, but not for now.

i thought that was a really fantastic and moving (but very very dark) film. i'm not trying to criticize it. but i think it's interesting that you would describe only the end sequence, as if that makes her a strong female character.

moreover, they're both robots. why are they even gendered at all? in a more literal, symbolic sense, "she" brings life. she's even egg-shaped for crying out loud. she's a super-womb.

unlike mad_typist, i'm not that critical of films where the characters aren't human, but damn... it speaks volumes if the only strong female characters the pixar guys can conjure are robots. my biology is just holding me back i guess, and that's why even if i had superpowers, i'd end up a housewife despite myself!
@ miqewalsh

um, edna's no character: she's a legend.
Good point. I've been sick of pixar for many reasons for quite a while. It’s always the same movie: bugs or fish or something inanimate ... talks! Like toys or cars or robots – It’s a talking car! It’s a talking doll! It's a robot that squeaks. That’s it – something inanimate has feelings. And takes a journey. Enough already! What’s the next one? You can fill in the blanks yourself, like Mad Libs.

CHAIRS! The little kid's chair wants to be a big chair :“The master wants to throw me away. They’re redecorating!” and the evil baraclounger rules the house and there’s a lovable old couch that’s lost a pillow and Randy Newman will write some crap song - “You can sit on me”.

Even better – Pixar Disney presents --

MISCELLANEOUS APPLIANCES! With Dane Cook as the can- opener. Not the crumby old can-opener – that’s Wally Shawn “OOO I hope this fancy new Can opener doesn’t take my job away!” Or else --

BRUSHES! The adventures of a toothbrush who wants to be a hairbrush! Chris Walken as the wily old paint brush! It’s a world with nothing but brushes in it. There’s more where that came from. Just buy the ticket. We don’t care.

Plus ... no meaningful femae characters.
I've had it.
You do have a point. Sad really, that such a talented bunch as Pixar is still a bit of slaves to the usual stereotype, but perhaps not very intentionally. And maybe not, because the male demographic is usually the most coveted one.
Few things. First, regarding Monsters Inc., you forgot Shmootsy Poo, Mike's love interest. But she is more of a proof to your point. Second, I am not sure I fully agree with you on The Incredibles. I think besides male middle life crisis it does cover female handling her husband's middle life crisis and also, the whole family against the world thing. Elastigirl is the greatest Pixar female character to me, no disrespect to Dory intended. The woman is amazing and she handles everything that falls on her with grace and confidence.
Yes, the scarcity of female role models is sad. But it is better than 20 years ago. We have the girls from Miyadzaki movies, we have Buffy the vampire slayer, we have Kim Possible, we have Ripley, we have excellent Doctor Who sidekicks who occasionally save the Doctor, we have Bones and Tombraider, who besides having breasts can kick any ass. I know I have delved into grown up territory, but I like funny and strong female characters too. The thing is, besides old stereotypes dying hard, there are economics. When there is a hot guy playing compelling hero, both women and men would watch it. But when there is a hot female lead, more women then men usually come. Hence the number of female leads... But it is getting better on tv, so let's keep the hopes up and keep voting for female leads by going to see them.
Funny thing is, the guys at Pixar express endless admiration for Hayao Miyazaki, the great Japanese film-maker, and he has plenty of strong female leads. In addition to My Neighbor Totoro, which has been already mentioned, we've got Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds (female lead saves the world), Kiki's Delivery Service (female lead and secondary characters as well), Castle in the Sky (female co-lead), Porco Rosso (male-pig lead, strong female supports), Spirited Away (female lead), Princess Mononoke (not your typical princess, though you probably have to give the lead to Prince Ashitaka), and Howl's Moving Castle (it's really Sophie's story). And this is only one Japanese anime artist. There are scads of strong female characters in anime.
Excellent. Let's keep Pixar under watch. Also, I note that their films tend to be playful. Now as much as I am for free play and experimentation, if we are to keep the populace in proper line, we should "ask" Pixar to encourage kids to most value dutiful attendance to societal expectations and norms. Too many people are being discriminated against these days, anyway, for frivolity to be allowed to remain, uncomplicated.
I'd go even farther and say this isn't just a problem in Pixar. Why is Anjelina Jolie almost always either the lead in action movies, or a supporting role in anything that isn't an action movie. Because there are so few dramatic leads for women that are strong enough for someone like her to play. The Marianne Pearl role was a rare exception. And now she seems to be experimenting with softer characters. But other than the Pearl role I can't think of a decent lead she's had since Gia. What's the point of even having great roles for girls if they're just going to graduate to a movie industry with so few leading roles for strong women.
Excellent point Bill. And look at all those awesome Chinese martial arts movies where it never feels like either a man or a woman has the lead. They always feel so beautifully balanced.
The movies of Pixar are a reflection of the people at Pixar. The directors and writers for Pixar are predominately men. I'm not saying this is good or bad. Pixar started off as a computer company in Silicon Valley. I can't think of too many industries which are more male dominated. While there are several men who write movies and tv shows centered on women (Joss Whedon comes to mind), most men are going to write stories that they both understand and are interested in. As Pixar matures as a company and women began to occupy key artistic positions in firm, the stories may change.

Despite some of the complaints here, my wife and I will allow our twin daughters to watch Pixar movies because they simply the most thoughtful and well written stories in theaters today.
@Jon Henner - I wouldn't put too much stock in the title of the article. Just a play on words.

@halfof42 - Disney is about to release "The Princess and the Frog", which features an African American princess. It comes out soon - I imagine you can catch the trailer over at the Apple trailers site.

@Adam Miller - yes, Pixar does write some pretty good characters. I think Dory and Elastigirl are particularly well done. This article is more an observation than an angry complaint. In fact, I was completely shocked when it occurred to me the other day, because I love the Pixar films so much I hadn't noticed until now.

@Edgar - good to see you, buddy :) And you really the nail on the head: we're so used to Pixar being ground-breaking in every other aspect of their film-making, that it's just strange to think that they've been fairly conservative in terms of featuring a female lead.

Again, I'm not really complaining, just making an observation. Pixar hasn't let us down yet, so perhaps "The Bear and the Bow" will be as great as the other Pixar films. And then we can all be happy with our first Pixar female lead :)
Hadn't thought of it this way. I'm trying to grade some movies in my head to see how the females do... not so well...
JustJuli: Well, you've stumped me there. I was having an emotional response to a rational discussion. There should be more female leads, and at the same time, there needs to be more disabled leads that aren't mentally challenged (I'm looking at you, Rain Man and I am Sam), or there to be fuck-bait for an Abled character (Yo, Children of a Lesser God and Babel).
On The Incredibles (my favorite Pixar) - ALL the Incredible family members have superpowers that are stereotypes for their role/age, which was a deliberate choice on the part of the writer. Dad is the big hero, super strong. Mom is super-flexible multi-tasker. Teenager Violet ("shrinking violet") can disappear. Dash, the younger brother, is hyperactively fast, just like many nine-year-olds seem. And the baby, Jack-Jack, goes through rapid changes from sweet and calm to demonic, to super heavy, etc., just like a baby's mood can change in an instant.

I think there was an NPR interview when it came out that described this, but I am too lazy to go find it. :)
This is a really good post -- really good analysis.
I'm with you. I got a little girl that I would love to see empowered after seeing a great film. And you picked the right group to address...they have the power to put out what they want. I know the demo argument out here, but the only way to change boys wanting so see films about girls that are in lead roles is to make them fun and exciting. My son loved watching the Power Puff Girls and loves I Carly on TV...but in film they're just not out there, NIMS ISLAND bored both my kids...but Pixar, they've got the chops and the capability to make a great film with a female protagonist. I'm with you...I want to see that happen.
Its not a significant add, but I think you missed one ... Monsters Vs Aliens. That one does feature a female character in the lead role, even if she does end up being GargantuGirl ... pretty strong female lead too, IMO.

I griped about this very issue when Ratatouille was released about two years ago. The story could have easily been about a female rat, in fact the dialog could have been changed just to fit the gender, I would just go on the fact that aesthetically there is little difference to a human eye between male and female rats.

I don't think that Japan's views on women are any saner than America's. In the worst animes women are degraded and treated as pieces of flesh to be discarded, usually they are a love interest to the male lead, typically portrayed as absent minded, clueless, etc. the most annoying response I find in recent animes to that kind of portrayal is the hot-headed and abusive female lead. I do not think that a woman who abuses a man for the most slightest reasons is "strong," or "brave," in my opinion it's just stupid, and as stupid as man on woman violence.
This brings us to a paradox. This paradox is Hayao Myazaki. He is a man all unto himself in the anime industry. Where I'd say 90% of the animated material produced in Japan treats females in a way I grade from horrible to mediocre, he on the other hand gives us some of the strongest, smartest, and most remarkable women in any animated movie. His first film with a lead female role, Nausicaa is far different than we expect from a princess. Although she is referred as one, she is an adventurer, and not only that but one that is highly regarded by the village and praised for her strong leadership and bravery. There is early on in the film an airship crash, the very first thing done by the villagers were to supply Nausicaa with her air glider so that she alone can warn the air crew of their inevitable accident if they didn’t change course. This is already vastly different from the typical animated film featuring a princess. Whenever a girl in other animated movies has an idea of sorts, she is bottled up by her father or mother. There is no way that Nausicaa could come from the studio of Disney, and Belle does not count, sorry.
Another film by Myazaki, My Neighbor Totoro was so different to film critic Roger Ebert’s sensibilities that he said it was remarkable that it took a film to come out of Japan to feature two girls as the leads. In the U.S. he claims it would have been about two boys, or a boy and sister. He might be right in that respect, I don’t recall there being an animated Disney film solely about young girls.
There are many other Myazaki films with strong female leads, Princess Monoke, Laputa, Spirited Away, and these were all mega blockbusters in Japan when they were released. I think he has really set the proper tone with what can be done with women in animated movies, and I really wish that other people, especially Pixar would follow his lead. They don’t, and it could either be the result of unimaginative marketing types who claim no one would go watch a film with a female lead, or simple chauvinism that has gone unchecked. Hard to say, my money will be on the boring marketing people.
I do love pixar, but for strong independent girls check out Hayao Miyazaki's . Spurted Away, Howls Castle, Kiki's Delivery Service.
This one looked like a lot of work. An interesting point. As some have already said, until we see more women in the biz we'll probably have fewer female leads than male.

I guess we'll know we've arrived at Equality Junction when the protagonist of one of these films is a gay female minority.

You will be happy to know there was a girl in “UP”. Unfortunately, she was dead.

Big thumb.
I love Pixar films and I had never thought about the lack of female leads. Now that I think about it, it is worth noting.
On the other hand, Fairy Tales are not just for kids. If you really looked at the stories are very adult themed: sex, drugs, crime, etc.
On the issue if Jon's complaint and JustJuli's query, “But -Jon- why not have more female disabled characters as well? And Typist wasn't saying Nemo wasn't good- not at all- as a movie she rates it A+ - see her other comment. It's just disheartening to not see more female leads when we're half the movie-going populace.”

I think the answer lies in the summary of these individual films as having somehow failed individually rather than collectively. That is, let's suppose that 50% of the movies did show women well. But let's say Finding Nemo was not in that set. Then you'd rate all the 50% that did show women well as A+ but the others as lower even though women were overall shown as ok.

The point is that not every movie needs to be a showcase in women, just a statistical number. Not every movie needs to be a showcase in someone disabled, just some. Not every one needs an African or Asian or whatever person in the lead. So individual scores are slightly misleading, and what's really frustrating is not to see that there's an overall score that's low—I think we all agree that in the aggregate it would help to show more balance—but to see a metric that grades it down merely because it did not feature women is tough. It happens to be that all movies suffer somewhat from this. But when I see a movie that is definitely about a woman (like Contact, for example), I don't find myself giving it a B for how it portrays men just because it features a woman. It might get a B from me if I thought the portrayal of a man was poorly done, but that's a different matter. Nemo does not degrade women or show them in stereotype roles. It is simply a story about a male fish.

I think there are other ways to present the information that do not force the overall statistical average to be made an individual property of the movie. I think that's the problem here. Bad choice of a mechanism for expressing the information because it encourages semantically false conclusions based on the data. There's a whole field of research called information visualization which addresses the issue of choosing the right visualization choice for the right purpose so as not to create exactly this kind of contentious implication.
hi there, this has been a really interesting topic of conversation. I've often thought that with Pixar movies the main character being a man was generally part of the comedy "recipe for sucess" or is this part of the problem?...have we gone so far with Sexual Harrassment and being Politically Correct that we can't put a female as a main character for fear of retribution?...or women finding offence?...or is it that men are just really naturally funny? whether they be old, young, star trek fans or Star wars fans. I'm funny and I'm a strong female ...I'd love to do a role in a pixar film but then I guess we all would wouldn't we...but surely women area just as funny I mean my partner constantly rolls his eyes at my bulging wardrobe as I cry " I have nothing to wear"...and " if they didn't make beautiful shoes I wouldn't need to buy them " chant...but hey whilst I look fabulous I can still be an engineer in a mining company
Great post, same old sad story. Entertainment geared toward women is often anemic. I'd rather see an action film with monsters and machines than a chick flick.
Well, I know someone, who for many years was a wheel at Pixar. A big 'wheel'.

I found your comments very descriptive of this fellow. It's not a place where honesty and integrity seem to count for much.

I'm not a modern feminist -- I'm a Christian. And I see Pixar exhibiting the same sickness's we see in our society. And if you want to see Pixar change or go out of business, work in our world, the real one. Work to create justice, to end murdering kid's whose only crime is that they haven't been born yet. And work to change the internet, to make our computer's safe for kid's.

Oh yeah, that fellow I knew from Pixar. He quit, thinking he was going to make a fortune. And lost his home. Then his wife.
I think you are being too hard on Pixar.

In Monsters, Inc. there is more than 1 female character. Same thing in Finding Nemo. In The Incredibles I'd hardly call Violet 'petulant'. She's shy and awkward but not moody. And Colette is far more than just a love interest.

I think that Pixar is far more racially insensitive than they are to gender.
Gonzoid, my point is not that there aren't any female characters, because obviously there are. But when you think about the focus of the movie, the characters that appear long enough for a kid to really latch onto them as someone to identify with, you don't see that many females in the Pixar category.

Colette in Ratatouille was at least a strong woman who seemed really competent in the kitchen. But I still feel like her main purpose in the story was to support Alfredo because she ended up falling in love with him.

I can't really fault Pixar on the race thing. One: most of their films involve non-humans, and I don't know how you imply race in something like a Car or Monster, unless you get into horrible stereotypes. The Incredibles featured FroZone, played by Samuel Jackson, and Up features a Korean kid who has a HUGE role in the movie.
The male dominated issues in our society still permeate, although they don't permeate as much as they used to. I still deal with male egos while playing baseball (hardball, not softball) and when I used to play roller hockey. Some guys just can't handle girls and ladies being in dominant roles and doing just as well or better than them, so they throw a baby fit and do things to try and thwart the girls and ladies (notice how I don't use words that have male origins to desribes us ladies?) their progression in any area.

Even so, I think that it's the movies that drive society more... or the movies that create those male-dominated themes rather than society driving the male-dominated themes. Perhaps in the past it was more society driving the themes and the movies being a reflection of society (movies from the 50's and 40's, for example).

I think, even though there still is a lot of sexism in American society, it's not what is driving the constant male-dominated themes of Pixar films and others. I love the films artistic qualities (I'm a graphic designer and multimedia artist), and most do have strong themes and lessons to be learned, but I agree that it's ridiculous how they also portray females in traditional, weak and supporting roles.

Just goes to show where their conscious minds currently are!
Great response, Soap Box Amy. Completely Agreed!

WOW! It's so nice to get back to reading posts from intelligent liberals! I've been debating with completely ignorant right wingers on a Facebook poll rating Obama. Why? I don't know, but I got sucked into it and need to get out.

Agreed that the media is controlled by white Republican men.

Biatch. Go fix me a sammech. Women are not allowed on the interwebs
Oh man, I love internet trolls.

Not gonna delete that comment. Enjoy the stupidity, regular readers. :)
It's a good laugh to see one stupid comment in the bunch, eh?!
Here's an idea, why don't you ladies be the role models for your girls? How many Disney movies feature males as the protagonist compared to the number of females? Why must everything have such a sexist spin about it? If you want equality, stop making a big deal about inequality. Next, people will complain about the lack of diversity based on ethnicity, religion, and/or sexual preference. "How many gay protagonists are there in Pixar's movies?" Boo hoo.

If your kids aren't complaining, neither should you.
@Mark Yonkin - I do try to be good female role model. On the other hand, I'm not a superhero, a robot, or a talking animal/toy, so I'm not sure you get the point here.
bstrangely wrote
June 08, 2009 03:44 PM

"here here!

i didn't like the incredibles much because i thought the female characters were actually living stereotypes. the mom's ability is... supermulti-tasking!"

Multitasking is bad because...?

Also, you forgot to note that Elastigirl has smarts, a good right hook, and surprisingly formidable stretching powers

"the teenage girl's ability is... disappearing!"

Violet also has a cool forcefield that's useful in rescuing people and bowling over bad guys.

"and worst of all, the whole villain's plan, which MUST be opposed... is equality? wtf?"

Syndrome's problem is HOW he wants to become a superhero. He wants to achieve his goal not my improving himself (morally, physically, mentally, etc.), but by killing off all the other superheroes. This is as bad as someone becoming the best golfer by eliminating his competition (e.g., Tiger Woods) instead of simply training harder. Because Syndrome's frankly immoral means, of course, he's going to be the villain who gets his just desserts in the end.
Correction to above post:

I meant to say "BY improving himself"
I most certainly do get the point. What I don't get is why there is a need to complain at every opportunity with regards to a disparity of male vs. female leads in movies. Perhaps producers feel that males are more in need of role models as there are more single mothers than fathers? Perhaps they are more confident in the abilities of a mother to be a good role model vice those of fathers? Or maybe it is because history and statistics have shown that movies with male leads tend to fare better in the box office than those with female leads. After all, it is about money. I am by no means a woman hater, I just despise the fact that people are so quick to jump on a situation where one group (sex, ethnicity, and so on) has a larger "role" in scripts than another. This is how things like affirmative action are born and then subsequently abused.
Mark Yorkin wrote:

"Here's an idea, why don't you ladies be the role models for your girls? How many Disney movies feature males as the protagonist compared to the number of females? Why must everything have such a sexist spin about it? If you want equality, stop making a big deal about inequality. "

Or better yet, start your own animation studio.

Imagine if the women complaining about Pixar's "sexism" actually directed all this energy to creating animated films. You'd generate female animated role models for girls as well as job opportunities.
Admittedly its not a Pixar film, but don't forget Godzilla! That's a movie with a strong female lead. Don't piss her off, she knows more-or-less where you live. Doesn't matter the exact address, she'll just smash the whole neighborhood...
@fred2 - yes, because I happen to have 500 million bucks laying around to start an animation studio. Oh wait....
the girls are over at studio ghibli in hayao miyazaki's movies. i try to keep a regular rotation of My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service and Spirited Away going.
Even though UP seems to be a male dominated movie, the wife is the driving part of the whole movie and without a doubt says the most lines in the first half hour of the movie.
There is another element working to stifle strong female characters. As an example, the movie "The Golden Compass." Yes, the right wingnuts stated their compliant was that the movie was atheistic (which seems ridiculous on its face, the story supports faith more than attacks it), but I also believe the idea of a strong juvenile female taking on the Powers of the Church, rather than spending her youth dreaming of growing up to become an obedient wife scared the hell out of the conservative religious movement, worse yet that another strong character in the movie was also female. How many producers are really willing to stand up to that constituency?
jgisme wrote:

"I'm not a modern feminist -- I'm a Christian. And I see Pixar exhibiting the same sickness's we see in our society. And if you want to see Pixar change or go out of business, work in our world, the real one. Work to create justice, to end murdering kid's whose only crime is that they haven't been born yet. And work to change the internet, to make our computer's safe for kid's."

This, my friends, is what is wrong with the world today. People wanting the world around them to change rather than do their part to educate their children about their own morals and beliefs. Rather a nanny-state raise my children than impose any sense of personal accountability to myself. This is not an attack on your opinion, as you are entitled to it, but instead of waiting for change to happen to benefit your inherent lack of motivation, why not teach your children how you want them to behave, rather than try to impose your beliefs on my children.
Arrgh! Where to begin? First a quibble, Mrs. Potatohead shows up in Toy Story 2, not the original.

As a father of three, with two rugrats under the age of 3, I have seen (and own) all the Pixar films with the exception of Rataouille. And I vehemently disagree with your opinions of the strength of the female roles in them all.

I don't consider any of the females you mentioned to just be one note characters. Jessie makes a journey to acceptance throughout Toy Story 2. Boo learns to face her fears in order to rescue Mike and Sully in the climax of Monsters Inc. And although I loathe Ellen Degeneres, her characterization of Dory was hysterical and crucial to advancing the plot. In fact, Nemo's father actually faces harsher adversity when he disregards Dory's advice!

If you are going to crucify Pixar for a percieved lack of female role models in their productions, take a long, hard look at the rest of Hollywood and then tell me that Pixar isn't a cut above the rest in that regard.
Doh! I completely forgot The Incredibles which featured a can-do female lead in Elastia Girl. Faced with a possibly-philandering husband and children in imminent danger, she borrows a jet(!), rescues her kids from death by explosion and drowning and sets off to save the day!
Re - Bug's Life... I just watched that one this weekend for the first time in awhile. The lead female character is basically the princess, queen-in-training (Julia Louis Dreyfuss). Although there is just a token of romantic subplot between her and Dave Foley, her primary character is one who lashes out at Flick because his screw ups make people think that she's not up to the job of queen. No great shakes, but the climax features a nice twist on the cliche, as the outwitted villain panics and kidnaps Flick and not Atta. It is Atta that must rescue Flick in the final battle, which is refreshing. The other characters of note are the aging queen and various members of the circus group, none of whom are particularly gender-centric in any way.

By the way, this is a wonderful piece of scholarship. Rated. And yes, fellow commenter, Kim Possible rocks.
I have loved all the Pixar movies that I have seen, but when the trailers for "Up" came out I couldn't take it. All these movies and not a single female protagonist?

As you say, they're not doing it on purpose but it's still depressing.
Mad Typist, as a conservative woman, I still do appreciate people noticing the lack of good female role models especially for children. And I do think that the entertainment industry could do more about it.

Especially in light of the fact that as a result of the "sexual liberation" of women, our worth is still tied to sex, even if we think that we "control" it more now than we used to. It's still tied to sex. We're our most powerful when we are sexual. Not our brains, not anything else. Just sex. That's why Angelina Jolie is a "strong woman" - she's sexy.

That is why 12 year old girls are giving oral sex to boys in Junior High; that is why teenage pregnancy and STDs are still a problem.

It's nice to teach kids about sex in a healthy way and not treat it as "dirty" or anything. But they should also be taught RESPECT for it and respect for themselves, because, trust me, if the girls think that they are getting respect from the boys because they "give it up" real easy and that they are "Sexually liberated", they have been deluded very badly.

The rest of this is directed at Soap Box Amy and her post at 4:47 pm, in case she's reading any further posts, or to anyone else that might agree with some of what she said:

The Media is NOT controlled by REPUBLICAN MEN. They are controlled by LIBERAL men who, as I just said above, just love it that women are EASY. However, this does not lead to RESPECT. The old fashioned ideas still stands - men still think women who give it up easy are SLUTS. Period. They probably always will.

The LIBERAL men in Hollywood are the ones that make women up to be nothing more than sexual objects.

You want further proof: the recent Playboy article regarding a "HateF**k" list of conservative women. An article that was rating which conservative women were worthy of basically being raped because at least they are hot. Playboy is hardly a bastion of conservatism.

And AOL has fired someone and forbidden any mention of the article.

And have you actually heard about it on the news? Probably not.

Are you enraged by it? I hope so. A woman's political views should not mean that they are denigrated because of it, especially by an act of rape. To think otherwise betrays everything the feminist movement is supposed to be about. ALL women, regardless of political party, race, age, creed, ethnicity, etc. are EQUAL to men in the eyes of the law and EQUAL to each other. To think otherwise is disgusting.

Remember Bill Clinton? Not exactly a conservative and not exactly respectful of women either.

My basic point being that political party is not necessarily an arbiter of whether someone respects women or not, although I have found that conservative men more often respect women than liberal men do, although many men can be "pigs" in the sense of treating women as sexual objects.

All I'm saying is, how about discussing the issue without creating straw men to bolster your argument.

Movies could use better female role models, for sure. I think conservative and liberal women could agree on that one.

One last time: sexual liberation is not necessarily the best thing that happened to women in the last 40 years. Sure, we got to be "easy" without having to hide it, but what respect have we really gotten because of it? Really dig deep on this one and think about it.

Let's face it, even an easy man that sleeps around is eventually looked down upon as nothing more than a sex object and gigolo.

How is that respect?

If we want that respect, we have to start pushing against the "sexual object" campaign that still goes on. We have to stop thinking that the sexual liberation did anything all that great for us. A little maybe, but not much.
Not a Pixar film, but "Chicken Run" was a (literal) hen party.

And "My Neighbor Totoro" centered around two completely ordinary middle-class sisters.
Also, not Pixar, but "Coraline."

Conservative men are the ones who think women should be forced to be in traditional roles, so how can that be called "respect"?
Most Hollywood films portray women as being weak, and they stereotype them. You know, to those of you who say you're sick and tired of hearing about what this gender wants or what this culture wants, I'm SICK AND TIRED of ladies being portrayed as being weak and unimportant.

How would YOU like it if most male characters constantly were being portrayed as abusers or rapers or criminals? I'm sure you'd have a problem with it, too.
Okay, Edna Mode has been mentioned once or twice, but there still seems to be a puzzling inclination to ignore her existence and her impact in "The Incredibles." This was one female Pixar character who absolutely put up with no one's nonsense, and in a head-to-head with Syndrome it's plain the latter would've been toast before he could even think of monologuing.
Damn right! Sexism in the arts is nothing new, of course, but, yeah: Why is it still here?

Nice straw man. "Conservatives", eh? Name me one. Does Todd Palin want Sarah Palin to be in a traditional role? Is she in a traditional role? How about any other number of conservative women who hold office or high level jobs?

Conservatives may generally believe, more often than liberals do, that children are better taken care of by family members, usually the mother, than put in daycare. So what?

I don't see anyone making laws that say women can't go to work. They are merely expressing an opinion, which I believe, is still legal under the 1st amendment.

I have hung around both liberals and conservatives. What liberals tell me is that I can't make it in this world as a woman without help from the gov't, without special privileges.

What conservatives tell me is that I can do and be whatever I want, whenever I want, and I don't need anything but my own brain, my own ambition, my own gumption, to do it.

Most of the conservatives I hang out with don't see women as sex objects, or even baby machines. They see them as they should - as individuals, not as a political group entitled to special rights.

I see no one has bothered to address the Playboy article either.

Once you have, you can explain to me how Conservatives don't respect women and Liberals do.
You're assuming that Pixar should do movies with women as lead characters. But why? Other than your preference there's no reason why they should. Some very good movies, such as Sahara, the one with Bogart, have been made without women. I don't recall any women in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, and Bridge on the River Kwai was weakened by the romantic interlude. Mr. Roberts had minimal female presence, and was a pretty good movie.

If a writer, or an artist, wants to do a work without women, surely that's their decision.

But then I'm an old male chauvinist pig, and proud of it.
Andy Collins: Hell yeah!

Krystyna Calloway: It's time to give up the airplane glue.

Yes those conservatives like Schafly and Bryant really want women to run around in bike shorts and bra-less tank tops and be in positions to manage men and also exercise control over their bodies...
Great job.

Now how about one on Disney TV, which has been dominated by programming for girls for years. Programs like "Kim Possible", where the girl is the superhero and the males are uniformly idiots or evil. I can imaging your review of a Pixar film where the protagonist's female sidekick is a completely useless comic relief dingbat who often loses her pants. Reverse the sexes and you have KP. Another program where boys are the second sex is their animated program "W.i.t.c.h.".
Conservative men are the ones who think women should be forced to be in traditional roles, so how can that be called "respect"?

I'm a conservative man and I admit that I've forced my wife to become a senior engineering manager.
I'm SICK AND TIRED of ladies being portrayed as being weak and unimportant.

Go buy Kim Possible, you'll love it. Then try "Charlie's Angels" 1 and 2, where 120 lbs girls beat up 200 lb men. Or "King Arthur" where the queen also beats up large men, or maybe "Dark Angel" or "Buffy" or the old "Avengers" episodes or the new "Avengers" movie or " X men" 1,2,3 or " Catwoman", or . . .. I could go on and on and on.

"Weak and unimportant" women are hardly the rule, characters like that are the exception. OTOH, if you happen to like "weak and unimportant" men characters, then check out the chick flicks. There's at least one of those in over half of them.
For as much as pixar says its influenced by Miyazaki, they seem to completely miss his feminist motives. Has a pixar film ever seen a Kiki or even a Nausicaa (hey, she may be a princess, but she is a model for leadership and saves humanity from itself). The answer is In fact outside of Coraline are there any good features with a female central character who is not a princess?

I was married to a conservative (notice I said "was"), and I know many others. Most think that women should obey the man. That's been MY experience.

I don't have a comment about the Playboy article. Playboy is what it is... about sex. So, what else is their to say about it? I could come back and ask you why many conservatives think that children SHOULD NOT have proper sex education in school to teach them how to take care of themselves and SHOULD NOT use birth control (something that Sarah Palin believes, despite the fact that her daughter didn't listen to her).
I never said I like films where girls are beating up on men. Those are stupid, too. But, the subject matter of this article is about the lack of strong lead female characters (strong, meaning empowered and NOT meaning ladies who beat up on men) in Pixar films.
contrast the disney oeuvre: a spunky teenage girl defies convention and her father to save her community and change the world for the better.
I don't know whether anyone will even get to this comment. Wow! What a reaction! Mad Typist, you seem to have hit a real nerve.

Pixar (now, but not always Disney owned) makes great quality films. (I agree that Cars may be an exception, but we had the voice of Paul Newman to compensate for what was missing elsewhere.) I am grateful to see ANYTHING of quality geared towards kids, so it pains me to be critical at all.

I must defend, however, Elastigirl--who certainly needs no outsider's help--and absolutely rules the Incredibles. She saves her bored, ego-driven husband from the mess he's made--tempted by the desire to regain his youthful glory, allowing himself to be seduced. Elastigirl is the real hero of the movie-- super or not--saving her whole family from her husbands transgressions. Both Elastigirl (yes!, multi-tasking!--what of it?) and Edna Mode (a business role model who those in the fashion industry may recognize as a combination of the extraordinary Edith Head, and Anna Wintour) there is enormous strength. Daughter Violet gives girls (and boys, actually) a peak at how one can emerge from "hiding" during the awkward young teenage years and blossom with confidence.

Unfortunately, not all of the industries that cater to the kid market concern themselves with quality at all. The subsequent flurry of film-related marketing can be a nightmare for any parent trying to avoid a fast-food experience, in addition to the relentless deluge of television commercials encouraging kids to ask their parents for the latest movie tie-in. This is all part of the movie business--the video games, action figures, cereal boxes, must-have collectibles--contribute to the film's bottom line through multi-licensing deals.

As a feminist, of course I'd like to see stronger female role models. More importantly, I want kids to have access to role models of any gender who possess and exhibit a sense of dignity, integrity and courage. When kids find their voices and know that someone is listening, it doesn't matter if they are boys or girls. Most younger children are not engaged by adults to think and share their ideas. They are shown images of all kinds, not always the quality of Pixar, with no follow-up discussion. There is a trend now in cartoons, on tv as well as in movies, where the theme is "World Domination". (I wonder where that got started?) If there is no communication between adult and child after viewing several hours of this stuff, the result will be crazy aggressive kids v those with through-the roof levels of anxiety and a boon to the kiddy-pharma industry.

In a world where action toys are primarily geared toward boys, girls are left to comb the rainbow colored hair of their little ponies, and decision-making entertainment executives are still mostly men, Pixar's dedication to quality is about as good as we can get for now.
Thanks Pixar, but try a little harder.

ps: For anyone who hasn't checked out Miyazaki, please do.
The quality of the images as art equal the imaginative tales.
Sheer beauty.
@sparkysb - yeah, I hit a nerve. Getting put up on has that affect :)

I realize that my commentary isn't as clear as it should be re: The Incredibles. The females in that are certainly strong role models and convey important messages to young girls, so perhaps I should have rated that higher.

My point about the lead character is that that character gets a special role in the film. They're the one the audience is most asked to identify with, they're the one who ultimately power the plot (for the most part). This is not to say that there can't be other characters who play important roles or affect the main plot.

As you say, Elastigirl has a huge role to play, and is arguably the hero of the piece. But it's still Bob's middle life crisis that we are first asked to identify with, and it's his decisions that ultimately drive the main plot forward.

All of this is again just an observation, because it just felt weird that this really innovative company was so conservative in picking their lead characters.

This poster does a better job summing up the real issue here: "Still, making something that is inherently genderless male because male=neutral is bullshit.*"
Very interesting observation. I've seen all of these movies and not clued in to the lack of female protagonists. I will be paying attention now though, that's for sure!
The girls are nowhere in Pixar films. But that can be also said of recent superhero films, or of general television productions. Welcome to real world, one occupied with sexism.
Scripts are not written by studios, as I understand it, they are selected by studios. The studio is motivated to make money. A movie about a strong woman would make money. I simply do not believe that this is about them discriminating against women, it's about them not getting good scripts about women. The solution to that is not to whine at the fine movies they have created, it's to sit down and write better scripts and submit them to Pixar. If there were good scripts waiting to make money, I have to believe Pixar will make them. In fact, if it won't, you want to get a competing crew together and have them beat out Pixar for ignoring all the good scripts. I don't think this is at all about these movies being bad, it's about a paucity of other movies that need to be written.
@ fred2

"He wants to achieve his goal not my improving himself (morally, physically, mentally, etc.), but by killing off all the other superheroes."

yes, i agree the killing part is evil, but listen to what his character says. his plan is to make a machine that would make everyone super. he says, "When everyone's super, no one will be." he even wants to sell his super robots to regular folks, and i'm supposed to hate him for it?

that's idiotic. think about our second amendment for a second, and that's exactly what it was supposed to accomplish: equality through technology. politically, this movie is a retelling of harrison bergeron, but i'm still doomed to averageness at the end.

seriously, think about what you're saying. can you train yourself to fly in a gym?? the whole narrative of "be the best you you can be without cheating!" falls flat when some characters have super powers.

and especially when they want to corner the market on super powers, so they'll continue to be needed by us sheep.

listen, multitasking isn't bad. being a mom isn't bad. but when you make super-stereotypes, they're still stereotypes. how would the story have been inferior if dad was the super-multitasker and violet had superspeed? why does mom accept her fate while dad yearns for adventure? why did they make the choices they did?

i thought the fact that "the government" was forcing the superheroes to retire was really telling. why would i be angry about that, but not angry about the fact that the superheroes forced a super inventor to retire, because i might get the chance to fly and shoot lasers too?
@ krystyna

why should we address a playboy article in a thread about children's films?

is that what you like to read to your kids at night?
Thanks for pointing this out. I will do some investigating on this myself!
I notice a few people defending Elastigirl based on the fact that she helped her husband through a midlife crisis and saved her family...don't women do that kind of thing all the time? How about the fact that she can fly a plane? I thought that was pretty awesome. Other than that it was the same old role that women always get...might as well watch an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, right down to the dinner of leftovers and kids chasing fighting while dad hides in the kitchen until his drinkin buddy comes and rescues him.
Despite Pixar's blatant promotion of gender discrimination, almost everybody still *loves* Pixar films. Isn't their ten film track-record of promoting sexism enough to outweigh great animation? Is a film company really all that creative when it chooses to create beautiful new worlds that unquestioningly reproduce the social inequalities and stereotypes that are so harmful to children in the real world?
I think that the thing that makes Pixar movies so great is that they seem to be telling a story that the writers really care about and understand the emotional perspective of the characters. I think the main reason that the main characters are male is that the writers are male and know more about how male characters act and feel. It would be great if they could expand into doing a movie with a great female lead, but should they sacrifice some of the emotional realism to do so?
Thanks for the post.